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"Excuse me, where is the Blue Mosque?"

Translation:Affedersin, Sultan Ahmet camisi nerede?

May 14, 2015



For all the beginners who seem to be confused about the "-si" suffix on "Sultan Ahmet camisi":

The same suffix used for a possesed noun is used for compound nouns. A compound noun is basically two different nouns stuck together acting as one noun. Some examples: "tea spoon": a spoon for tea, "office park": a park made of offices, "floor tile": tile used for flooring.

In Turkish, this is different than simply modifying a noun with an adjective. "Mavi cami" doesnt not require the "-(s)I" suffix because "mavi" is an adjective. [note: the parenthesised "(s)" indicates that an "s" is added if the word ends in a vowel, as "cami" does; and the capital "I" indicates four-way vowel harmony]

So, "Sultan Ahmet" is the first noun in this compound noun, and "cami" is the second. The second noun takes this "-(s)I" suffix in compound nouns, turning "cami" into "camisi". Final phrase: "Sultan Ahmet camisi"

"Sultan Ahmet" is not in the genitive (possessor) case because that's not the relationship here. Its not "Sultan Ahmet's mosque" but "THE Sultan Ahmet mosque". He doesn't own it, it's named after him [I dont know the historical context, so he may have owned it? But it's irrelevant here].

I hope I was able to answer all the questions I saw in the comments for this sentence.


markaragnossith, thanks for your explanation. I would say that "Sultan Ahmet camisi (i pointless) is the same as for the word "zoo"= "hayvanat bahçesi" (pointless i) or havalimani(pointless i) composed of "hava"="the air" and "limani"="the port".


Thanks ,you are great!


Actually "camı(sı)" is the third noun in the compound, but I understand that "Sultan Ahmet" is a special case of a name functioning as a single noun. So nitpicking aside, what if there is a compound of more than two nouns in general? Will the suffix always only go to the final noun?


Wow this is a great question that I'm glad I looked up. The answer is: "it depends", but I'll go into detail.

From this source[1]: "... normal compound nouns ... only take one compound noun ending on the last word, regardless of the number of words in the compound noun."

However, this video[2] (timestamped at the relevant section) provides the example "doğum günü hediyesi" to illustrate 3+ word compound nouns, which clearly takes two different "-(s)i" suffixes.

Finally, I found this page[3] which finally goes into excruciating detail about compound nouns, where we find the true answer: "it depends". In a compound like "doğum günü hediyesi", it's really made up of two different compounds: first, "doğum" modifies "gün" to make "doğum günü", and after that "doğum günü" modifies "hediye" to make "doğum günü hediyesi". And here is an example where every subsequent noun does not get a suffix: "fen fakültesi kimya bölümü öğrencisi" (roughly translated: "student of the science faculty chemistry department") [note: this was the only example I could find from this source, which is why I chose such a long-winded one]. Here we see that the noun "kimya" (chemistry) does not take the possessed suffix, because it's part of the compound noun "kimya bölümü" (chemistry department). In this example it's ambiguous as to whether "fen fakültesi" is modifying "kimya bölümü", or "kimya bölümü öğrencisi".

The final source would seem to indicate that you can break apart "compound noun chains" into constituent "simple" compound nouns (compound nouns made up of only 2 nouns), but each constituent may be a compound noun itself, with the second noun in each compound taking at most a single "-(s)i" suffix.

I do think it's possible, like in English, if you chained a bunch of nouns together it would either be clear from context what you mean, or basically gibberish, and that you should use other constructions to make your intent clearer where possible. For example, does "art school bus" mean "a bus from an art school", or "a school bus full of art"? It seems like, in Turkish, you could make it unambiguous by translating as either "sanat okulu otobüsü" or "sanat okul otobüsü" (respectively), but your meaning would be clearer if you used other constructions (e.g. "sanat okulundan otobüs" or "sanat ile okul otobüsü").

Please note that I am not a native Turkish speaker, just an enthusiast with too much time on his hands to read grammar articles. If you're not satisfied with my answer I highly recommend doing your own research and drawing your own conclusions!


[1] https://www.turkishtextbook.com/compound-nouns/

[2] https://youtu.be/WOS3y3qjEG8

[3] http://www.turkishclass.com/turkish_lesson_35



Edited for formatting, typos, and clarity


Enthusiast indeed - thank you for your elaborate answer! Actually I'm not too surprised that the short answer is "it depends". But your efforts in research are highly appreciated.


Çok teşekkür ederim! Very helpful explanation. I was wondering, if you don't mind, going into further explanation with 'the capital "I" indicates four-way vowel harmony'. Do you mean depending on the last letter in the root word, the suffix may end with something besides an 'i' ?


No problem! Yes, depending on the last vowel sound of the word, the suffix may end with a different letter. Let's use the compound noun suffix -(s)İ as an example.

Capital "İ" indicates four-way vowel harmony, which can be one of four different letters (obviously).

  • if the word ends in "e" or "i", the suffix becomes -(s)i ... "cami" => "camisi" (mosque)
  • if the word ends in "a" or "ı", the suffix becomes -(s)ı ... "elma" => "elması" (apple)
  • if the word ends in "o" or "u", the suffix becomes -(s)u ... "durum" => "durumu" (situation)
  • if the word ends in "ö" or "ü", the suffix becomes -(s)ü ... "göl" => "gölü" (lake)

All of these endings indicate the same thing, even though they look different. It's the same suffix, but made to look/sound better on the root word. Additionally, it's not dependent solely on the root word, but on whatever the last sound is. For example, the plural suffix -lAr can change what compound noun suffix you use.

  • "durumlar" => "durumları" (situations)
  • "göller" => "gölleri" (lakes)

This is because the last vowel sound has now changed.

There's also TWO-way vowel harmony, indicated by capital "A". The plural suffix is uses this kind of vowel harmony.

  • if the word ends in "a", "ı", "o", or "u", the suffix becomes -lar
  • if the word ends in "e", "i", "ö", or "ü" the suffix becomes -ler

One thing to be aware of: because of the foreign origin of some words, the endings they take look like exceptions to this rule. "Saat" (hour, clock) has an "a" as its final vowel, but takes endings as if it ended in "e" or "i" ("saatler", "saati"). "Kontrol" (control, check) ends in "o" but takes endings as if it ended in "ö" or "ü" ("kontrolden", "kontrolü").

I recommend taking a look at the "Accusative" lesson's tips and notes for the course's introduction to four-way vowel harmony, and the "Plural" lesson's tips and notes for two-way vowel harmony.

(edited for formatting mistakes + further reading)


Awesome explanation thank you!


Why is it mavi cami but sultan ahmet camisi?


This is a great question. This building has a naming crisis in English and Turkish. Most Turkish call it Sultan Ahmet Camisi, but there are people who say Mavi Cami. In English, people tend to say the Blue Mosque, but there are some (me included) who say Sultan Ahmet Mosque. We chose the most common expressions for this (very beautiful) place in its respective language, but accept all forms of what people might say! :)


Because the Sultan Ahmet Mosque is decorated with blue tiles. So europans "Blue mosque" they say.


Can one explain what is the suffix -sı in camısı


What i understand in my extremely newbie knowledge it means " 's ". is something that came of , or is part of, or came from.. senin kedi-si (your cat) evin oda-si (house's room) etc. In this case the "mosque of" Sultan Ahmed


This video helped me very much to understand compound nouns. Thanks so much for sharing it!


Why isn't Sultan Ahmet in genitive?


Marcin, Markarragnissith answers very clearly to your question, just above.


why affedersin, Nerede sultan ahmed camisi.. is wrong??

I read that places come frist and the nerede is express of place.. isnt that?


Indeed, the location information in a sentence usually comes towards the beginning of the sentence, and question words DO usually go in the place in the sentence where the answer would go.

You're confused about the structure of the sentence, however. It helps to think about what the answer will be.

"Sultan Ahmet camisi orada." --- "The Blue Mosque is over there."

When talking about the location of some object, the object is normally the subject of the sentence, and the location is the predicate. So, since the answer to the question would come at the end of the sentence, so must "nerede." (It doesn't HAVE to, but placing it at the beginning probably sounds weird).

If the grammar talk is too much, just remember that if you want to say "this is here" you say "bu burada" and NOT "burada bu."

I hope that helped. Let me know if I could make anything more clear.


In a previous sentence "ayakkabilar kimin?"= "whose are the shoes?" you have the same construction.


blue mosque=sultanahmet cami. but it isn't accept


It would be "Sultan Ahmet Mosque." Cami isn't a word in English.


IMO Sultan Ahmet camisi is ""translated"" to "Sultan Ahmet Mosque or! "King Ahmet Mosque" not "Blue mosque" even if it is called when you are "talking" about that beautiful mosque...


I thought Cami was mosque. So why is this camisi?


is it ok to say affedersiniz if addressing a stranger?


This is a late response, but yes! "Affedersiniz" is the preferred way to say this to a stranger.


what ıs the dıfference between nereye and nerede?


"Nerede" means "where" as in "at what place". "Nereye" means "to where" as in "to what place".


Camii is also a valid word, but it is accepted. FYI.


Just spelling Ahmet wrong usually gets a "spelling error" not an "incorrect "


Why "nerede" and not "neredir"?


I assume you're thinking of the word "nerededir", which means the same thing as "nerede" but has an added semantic meaning that what you're asking about is a fact (which I think fits fine in this sentence. "Affedersin, Sultan Ahmet camisi nerededir?" should be accepted as a translation for this exercise, and if it's not you can report it the next time it comes around.

If you misspelled "nerededir", though, that I can't speak to.




I wrote correct answer but that showed its wrong


I have a doubt...Sultan Ahmet is a name but the sentence is like Where is the blue Mosque why Can someone please explain it to me


Please, how to pronounce "nerede"? Sometimes I don't hear the second "e"?


I would like to ask you, why isn't "Sultan Ahmet'in Camisi"?


Affedersin, Sultan Ahmet camisi nerede


Affedersin, Sultan Ahmet camisi nerede?

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